Thursday, December 18, 2008

Splendid Table: You Really Do Need a Pasta Machine

Lynne Rossetto Kasper believes that rolling out pasta with a pin is better than using a machine. She's a purist, and I wouldn't want her any other way.  "The pebbly texture of hand-rolled pasta combines beautifully with sauces," Kasper writes in The Splendid Table. "For example, a juicy ragu melts into and joins with hand-rolled tagliatelle but slips off the slicker surface of machine-thinned noodles." 

I'm sure she's right. But unless you're an elderly Italian peasant in a black dress, rolling out pasta by hand is maddening.
We didn't choose to hand-roll our tagliatelle last night, but the pasta-attachment to the mixer expired. My mother and Isabel spent 45 minutes rolling and rolling and rolling out the dough and then cutting out long ribbon-like noodles which they then tried to roll some more. 

The resulting tagliatelle with Prosciutto di Parma was tasty, thanks mostly to the rich sauce. The thick, chewy noodles themselves -- the pasta-makers were the first to admit this -- left something to be desired. Buying a new pasta machine today.

We also made sweet cornmeal biscuits (gialetti di Romagna) which you should file under WHY ITALIAN WOMEN ARE SKINNY. Gialetti are severe and gritty cookies full of raisins and pine nuts, very delicious but you really don't want to eat a dozen of them all at once. One or two, a tiny espresso, you're done. Ready to go boot-shopping or meet your lover, or whatever it is that chic Bolognese ladies do with their afternoons. I doubt many of them are hand-rolling tagliatelle.

Gialetti aren't the kind of cookie kids usually appreciate, but Isabel loved them. It makes me a little wistful to admit this, but she is no longer exactly a kid.